It used to be the case that Parliamentary by-elections were relatively rare events caused only by the death or ill health of the sitting MP. It might be just be but just recently they seem to becoming more common.
The first thing that comes into my mind this year when I hear the word by-election is the tragic murder of our colleague Jo Cox. I cannot even begin to think how terrible this Christmas time must be for her husband, her children and wider family. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
Over in the Lake District the sitting Member of Parliament for Copeland has announced his intention to leave Parliament and take up a new job in the nuclear industry. The residents of this beautiful constituency are about to discover what it is like to become the centre of political attention. They may notice a significant increase in the amount of political literature arriving through their letterboxes! I paid my first visit over their yesterday in the teeth of what according to the Met Office was Storm Barbara. It will provide the first big test for the major political parties in 2017.